Coke. Zero. Sugar. Three little words; one new drink. In a nod to those who eschew sugar (and detest calories), Coca-Cola proudly offers its latest beverage. Coke was the original, of course. Coke Zero was the low-cal offering for men (Diet Coke was perceived as a “women’s” drink). And now the soda junkie may opt for Coke Zero Sugar, with the claim of original taste but no calories and no sugar. For my money, let’s hope the sugared varieties still have a shelf life. Otherwise my cure for headaches just went out the window.
Coke cures headaches? Well, why not? Those of us who experience the recurrent forehead fevers will jump on just about any bandwagon to chase away the relentless pain, and a Coke seems relatively harmless compared to the more potent options out there. But truth be told, a can of Coke is only half the solution. Chase the Real Thing with a Snickers bar and you have the coup de grace of headache cures. The combined overdose of caffeine, sugar, salt, and protein packs a punch more powerful than half a bottle of Excedrin tablets.
When I was a kid, headaches were my constant companion. I could sense the pain unfolding well before it up and knocked on my forehead door. In full bloom, my headaches could only be cured by retreating to a dark, quiet room and sleeping them off. But try falling asleep when someone’s rapping a hammer against your brain. The mental/physical anguish of the battle surely coined the phrase “toss-and-turn”.
My mother and my doctor (seemingly one and the same) drew frustratingly repetitive conclusions. My headaches were not strong enough or persistent enough to prescribe migraine medication. My headaches were likely brought on by “not enough of this“ or “too much of that“. Not enough sleep or not enough water. Too much sun or too much sugar. Too much sugar? And now I’m promoting a headache cure with sugar as an essential ingredient? Sorry Mom – it works.
At one point in my life my headaches were so bad I believed I could generate one by merely thinking about them. My mother used to say, “don’t get too excited; you might get a headache”. Ironically, her good intentions were dashed by the very mention of what she was trying to get me to avoid. But the conjuring really did happen – on more than one occasion. Think about a headache = get a headache.
Headaches are attributed – at least in part – to dilated blood vessels. (Dilated blood vessels are attributed to way too many conditions to list here.) The brain’s response to dilation is to summon a pain companion; a vehicle to announce, “something’s wrong”. You see, for all its intelligence the brain lacks its own pain receptors, so it seeks another part of the body to act as its surrogate. Enter: the headache. Fascinating perhaps, but no fun for the recipient. There were times I would’ve traded all of my worldly possessions (which admittedly didn’t amount to much) in exchange for the removal of headache pain. On that note, I don’t want to even think about how a migraine headache feels (after all, I might get one).
Forty-five million Americans suffer from some form of headaches. Thankfully, I’m no longer a member of that vast club. Whether from corrective eye surgery I had as a teenager or better control of the “not enough of” or “too much of”, the pots-and-pans forehead pain endured as a kid simply doesn’t visit anymore. I’m very thankful for that. I’d like to think I’ve done my time with those miserable toss-and-turn episodes. But as a former Boy Scout, I know it’s wise to be prepared. If my brain gets into a “for old time’s sake” mood, I’ll have a can of Coke and a Snickers bar at the ready.